The legality of Airbnb rentals in New York City have been under fire for awhile now, and the city just fired another volley: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has released a report titled "Airbnb in the city," and it's not particularly favorable. The report claims that 72-percent of all private short-term rentals (read: Airbnb rentals) are illegal -- specifically because they were rentals for an "entire/home apartment" for terms of less than a month. The report explains that these kinds of rentals probably should be paying hotel occupancy taxes, and estimates that the city has lost $33 million in tax revenue as a result of the illegal Airbnb rentals. Worse, the report says, a small contingent of hosts seem to be using Airbnb to run illegal hotels.
Although most of the violators appear to be average users operating one or two rentals at most, six-percent of the city's hosts were labeled as "commercial users" running multimillion dollar businesses. Despite being such a small contingent of the host population, this group's revenue accounts for 37-percent of all Airbnb earnings in the city. The most egregious violator is said to have leased out 272 units during the review period. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking the report very seriously, and has already filed a lawsuit against the owners of two apartment buildings in Manhattan. The lawsuit asserts that the brothers have been renting out the buildings as an illegal hotel, exclusively using its apartments for short-term rentals under 30-days.
The mayor's office says that the city isn't directly attacking Airbnb, bur rather owners who are operating illegal hotels that pose "serious health and safety problems." The city also clarified that while the owners of the buildings in question have used Airbnb as a past, the site banned them before the legal action started -- meaning they were probably among the 2,000 listings that weren't "providing a quality, local experience to guests." Either way, the Attorney General's report is probably a good thing to read if you're leasing a room through Airbnb in New York. Care for a look? You'll find it right here.